Senators push for tobacco ban on players during World Series
San Francisco Giants player Mark DeRosa takes a pinch of smokeless tobacco during warmups.
October 19th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Senators push for tobacco ban on players during World Series

A group of senators is urging Major League Baseball to use the World Series as a chance to step up and change a fairly recognizable scene at baseball stadiums: a group of players in the dugout chomping on chew and spitting tobacco juice.

Not only is it unhealthy, the senators said, but it sends the wrong message to children who look up to the players.

Baseball's smokeless tobacco problem

"An expected 15 million viewers, including many children, will tune in to watch the first game of the series," Sen. Dick Durbin and other senators said in a letter to the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. "Unfortunately, as these young fans root for their favorite team and players, they also will watch their on-field heroes use smokeless tobacco products."

It's a scene that's caught often on TV, as a camera pans the field during batting practice or the dugout during the game: Some players chew gum, others spit out sunflower seed shells, and others spit out tobacco juice. With the first game of the World Series set for Wednesday night, the senators are trying to use that national platform to urge players to opt for the sunflower seeds rather than the tobacco.

Sens. Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, Richard Blumenthal and Tom Harkin, who is the Senate Health Committee chairman, said the World Series is such a big stage that it would be a good opportunity to right a wrong as well as set a good example.

The senators cited the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which showed a 36% increase in use of smokeless tobacco products among boys in high school since 2003. The survey also showed that 15% of high school boys now use the products.

"When players use smokeless tobacco, they endanger not only their own health, but also the health of millions of children who follow their example," they said in a letter.

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, echoed that sentiment wholeheartedly.

“Major League Baseball and the players union should follow the senators’ leadership and get smokeless tobacco out of the game,” Myers said in a press release.  “The calls for tobacco-free baseball have come from hundreds of diverse voices that have grown louder over the course of the 2011 season. Now it is time for baseball to act to protect the health of current players and millions of kids who look up to them.”

The senators had earlier in the year petitioned MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to ban tobacco in the major leagues, as the minor leagues already have.

"It is time for the players to take the lead and support extending this policy throughout MLB," the senators wrote.

Selig has said that he intends to propose the ban as a part of the players' new contracts next year.

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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
soundoff (842 Responses)
  1. Monty

    Why are the senators and us so concerned about what baseball players do? it use to be the national past time but if you ask americans who is playing in the world series I'm sure most won't even be able to tell you. Baseball use to be america's past time before the whole steroid deal and the late night games that the average american doesn't care to stay up that late to watch the game.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. s kel

    Baseball is baseball. The players are not gods. Let them chew the crappy tea party looking tobaco they have in their jaws. Its not up to the govt . on this matter, Let them CHEW!

    October 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Reasonably

    Nicotine is a stimulant and needed by both the players and fans to stay awake watching these games.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BrianP

    To look up to baseball players is extremely funny to me.
    The real ones to look up to are the PARENTS for providing shelter, food, and clothing for their own kids.
    To look up to baseball players is heartbreaking to every firefighter, police officer, ect.
    THOSE are the real the ones to look up to! Those are the one who risk their life!
    Now as to saying they should BAN chewing tobacco at a sport event is up for debate...
    I say if it’s for a televised children baseball game, then yeah ban it!
    It’s a game that’s geared towards kids so it is sending a wrong message.
    But we are the adults, and we shouldn't cater major league baseball towards children.
    Parents, guardian,.... ADULTS!
    OWE up and take responsibility for yourself and your own children.
    Talk to them! Educate them on what is wrong and what is right.
    I can hardly see the damage one baseball game showing only a small handful of players spitting chewing tobacco can cause, when us as a society is smoking (and chewing) right in front of them!

    October 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • local dude

      Yeah look up to that crack head, whoring, absentiee parent. Or that bribe-taking cop who hides behind a badge and is not man enough to face those defenseless people they beat under the disguise of their uniform and union. How about those arsonist firefighters or child-molesting teachers, yeah their someone to look-up to.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Spaz

    Asinine is too kind of a word to describe these senators. Don't they have better things to do that complain about ballplayers?

    October 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • themeatfist

      + juan. Cripes first these retard busybodies get Apple to bend over and take it by removing DUI checkpoint apps now THIS? Mind their own business. If someone's kid is dumb enough to look up to a complete stranger as an idyllic role model then they've got bigger problems than watching someone chew their chaw

      October 19, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gray

    Why are government officials even worried about this? Fix the economy, taxes, healthcare and quit grandstanding. Tobacco is a legal product, we are adults, and we can make our own decisions. As for kids, quit trying to govern parenting. It is a parents job to teach their kids, not the governments. George Orwell anyone???

    October 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. s kel

    Or should I say Chaw, anyway keep chewing tobaco.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. local dude


    October 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sillyscared

    Jump on the Ban wagon people. Everything we as adults do is bad for kids......Having your kid up till 11 is bad too...

    October 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. K from AZ

    Who cares what a bunch of millionaire 'drug addicts' do? The morons in the senate should do some real work!

    October 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kurtinco

    Really, the US Senate really has nothing better to do than worry about chew and baseball? I mean, they did a whole investigation on steroid use in MLB, but there are still no mandatory tests and they are talking about chew. Millions out of a job, and their talking about chew? Republicans on the rampage to destroy America's government, and senate dems are taking about chew? Common, dems, its time to get serious. You don't like chew, then don't chew. You don't want your kids to see it, then don't watch baseball.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • kurtinco

      Oh, and most importantly, when parents set the right example at home, their children are less likely to look up to a baseball player they don't even know and start chewing. One second it, "get the government out of our lives." But in the next second, "we need the government to save our poor, impressionable children from those baseball playing brutes on television." This has got to be the biggest "gimme a break" moment of the congressional week so far.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jacob

    Get. A. Life. This country has so many important things to handle and they are freaking talking about tobacco? It's legal, leave them alone if they want to use it.

    I don't understand why our country is so obsessed with what its citizens put in their bodies. This is America, leave us be.

    Parents, it is YOUR JOB to teach your kids about what they should and should not do. If you aren't up to the task then don't have kids. My parents took the time to teach me, and I stayed away from tobacco and alcohol till I was legally able to make the decision for myself. Don't rely on the whole country to make your job easier. Especially our dimwit politicians who should be focusing their limited brains on more pressing issues. Democrats, jeez.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    While were at it, why don't we ban those husky umpires. They're encouraging me to be fat.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • kurtinco

      I know, right??!!?? While you're at it, I have a few more suggestions: ban people from pro sports until they've finished college (might help to clean up baseball and basket ball and set a good example), ban yelling, kicking dirt, teams clearing out the dug-outs for on-field melees, punching, kicking, whining, pouting, p i s s i n g and moaning. And you've only barely got me started...

      October 19, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. eman

    Why are they wasting their time with this? Shouldn't they be working on the economy and job creation?

    October 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HuH?

    The headline of this article is "Occupy Wall Street May Get Star Power". This is an article about some weird tobacco ban on baseball players. I think there may have been a mistake.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
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